Seismic II project takes MMC schools to the next level

07 September 2020

A £6m project to transform the way schools and healthcare facilities are built has been granted £2.9m of funding to showcase the future of modern methods of construction (MMC) in the UK. 

The NCC is part of the consortium-led Seismic II project, which is working on the future of construction. Among a range of outcomes, the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funded project via the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will create a set of standardised reconfigurable components, working closely with the Construction Innovation Hub to align platform interface standards. These components will reduce waste, cost and carbon dioxide emissions while increasing speed of delivery. 

Graeme Jeremy, Head of Construction & Infrastructure at the NCC, said "Fibre Polymer Composite (FPC) materials offer a huge range of benefits to the construction industry. Their strength and durability not only give advantages to the build itself, but can also improve the sustainability of the building, reducing its carbon footprint and whole life costs.

"Using advanced materials in construction is still relatively novel, and through the Seismic II project, we’ll be investigating areas where composites can add the most value to modular buildings, taking advantage of the increasing uptake in manufacturing."

The consortium is conscious of the need to align and harmonise its work with the outputs of the Construction Innovation Hub and will be working with them throughout to ensure maximum impact. 

Government procurement is already set to shift from traditional construction methods to MMC. Seismic II will show how this shift can happen while meeting the government’s own ‘Construction 2025’ vision of lower costs and emissions, faster delivery and an increase in exports from the industry.

Currently, most traditional UK construction relies on bespoke systems created by individual manufacturers. A lack of standardisation means different systems are incompatible, causing errors, delays and defects.

Seismic II builds on the success of the Seismic I project, which showed how a standardised light steel frame could change the way new schools were designed and constructed. With the new award from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the system will encompass the production of wall, floor, ceiling and roof components that are all completely interoperable with the standardised light steel frame.

The automotive industry has long been the standard bearer for streamlined production and component assembly. The aim of Seismic II is to show that similar principles can be applied to the construction industry.

Along with improving the offsite production processes for projects using MMC, Seismic II will also look at the whole life performance of the buildings produced that way. The government’s industrial strategy aims to reduce the construction costs and whole life costs of buildings by a third, while seeing those same buildings delivered in half the time and with a 50% reduction in carbon emissions from the sector.

Adopting MMC is essential to meet those targets and Seismic II is well-positioned to deliver on them. Centred around a digital approach to design, production and operation, the platform will use linked data from start to finish. This approach ensures that the building delivered on site matches the design intent, performs as expected, and can be managed efficiently throughout its life.

Originally intended for school construction, Seismic II has drawn interest from the healthcare, commercial and residential sectors. The completed demonstrator building will be a template for high performance buildings of all types, delivered using high quality, reliable, standardised components.

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